Title: Shocker (1989)
Written and directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Peter Berg as Jonathan Parker
Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker
Camille Cooper as Alison
By Shelley Stillo
Pre-screening memories: If this site has taught me anything, it is that I witnessed far too many age-inappropriate movies as a child. I bore witness to more acts of violence, mayhem and destruction before I was even able to remove the training wheels from my bike.
I will leave the analysis of its effects for a therapist to deal with, but all that viewing has instilled in me a life-long admiration of the horror genre. And of all the beasts and boogeymen that made it into my living room television set, Wes Craven was the one I connected with most frequently.
There was something more under the surface of Craven’s brand of horror, commenting on our culture, or state of society. And even though my brain was barely beyond what was on the Saturday morning cartoon showcase, it still seemed to pick up the impulses of Craven’s transmitted messages.
Shocker was a film I discovered on the shelves of my local video store, after A Nightmare on Elm Streethad made its permanent mark on my mind. I would search for anything with his name affixed to it, and I eagerly grabbed it and brought it home.
It is a film that today divides its audiences, between those who ridicule its over-the-top scenario, its dime-store special effects, and its lapses in logic, and those who enjoyed it as a wild ride laced with a commentary on a television-obsessed society. I fell into the latter category, realizing that, despite its limitations, Craven still had more on its mind than just the standard slash-and-scream horror.
New memories: Time may not have been kind to its already-limited special effects budget, and there are certainly more than one moments that illicit an eye roll, but I still find myself connecting with the film’s message and its gritty charms.
Sure, Horace Pinker will never be synonymous with Freddie Kreuger, but he did, and still does, make an indelible mark on this young horror fan.
Download Natsukashi’s ‘Shocker’ podcast with star Camille Cooper here
Or, plug in to our player on this very site below:
Our featured guest: Camille Cooper
Camille Cooper has worked professionally in film and television for a number of years, starring in five films, including Meet the Applegates and Like Father, Like Son, and television series including General Hospital and Knots Landing. She has been featured in numerous commercials and print ads (for Coke, Milky Way and Campbell’s Soup, among others). She has been interviewed and photographed for such publications as Premiere Interview, Egg, and The New York Times, and has appeared on the cover of Working Mother. Recently she was a guest on a little program called The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Cooper quit the biz more than a decade ago and dedicated herself to speaking out about the effect of media on young women and body image
Since her show business retirement, Cooper has co-chaired the Committee for the Empowerment of Young Women since 1994, and has lectured across the country, educating and encouraging young women to question what they see, to define themselves by their abilities and their dreams, and to take action to promote positive change.
She was gracious enough to share her memories of working with Wes Craven and the Shocker set, and we thank for for her humor and recollections of the film.